When Sam reached his 10th birthday he asked his parents if he could start walking to school by himself. His Mother had always taken him in the car, but Sam assured them he would be fine alone. He promised he would take the route that was through Farmer Brown's farmyard and over the fields beyond, to avoid any busy roads. His parents told him that provided Farmer Brown agreed to him going through his property it would be OK. So a telephone call was made to Farmer Brown by Sam's father and everything was settled. Sam was so pleased and thought of it as an adventure. There was just one place he wasn't looking forward to passing, on his journey, and that was the big old grey house, just a few hundred yards from the farm. The place always looked scary and all the local children said that old Mrs Grimble, who lived in the house, was a witch and if she caught you she would cast a spell and you would never be able to escape. Mrs. Grimble was quite old and she was small and thin and always dressed in tatty black clothes. She was never seen out in the Village and she never seemed to have any visitors.
On his first morning walk to school Sam told himself that all this talk of witches and spells was silly, but just before he reached Mrs Grimble's house Sam felt quite scared andbegan to run, faster and faster until he reached the farm. Sam rested until he recovered his breath, he then climbed over the style and into the farmyard. He felt quite relieved that he had made it safely passed the old house, without any sight of Mrs. Grimble. As he walked through the Courtyard leading to the back of the farm he was greeted by Rusty, the Farmer's labrador dog and also some of the chickens that were wandering lazilyabout. Sam fussed the dog and then carried on walking, passed the stables and into the area of the paddocks. In one of the paddocks Sam noticed a lovely pony. He was all black except for a long flash of white down the centre of his face. The pony came up to the fence of the paddock and nuzzled his head towards Sam. "Hello boy" said Sam and gently stroked his head and gave him the rest of the apple that he had been eating. As Sam was about to set off and carry on to school, Farmer Brown came along. "Mornin' Sam" he said "I see you have met Jed". Jed belonged to his Granddaughter, Emily, the farmer told Sam. She was going off to college soon and he was going to be looking after Jed for her. "Is it OK for me to stroke him and give him the occasional treat?" asked Sam. "Yes, he loves a fuss, and the occasional treat wont do any harm, but only carrots or apples" said Farmer Brown.
After that Sam saw Jed every day and even if Jed was over the other side of the paddock, he would always come racing over as soon as he saw Sam approaching. They became the best of friends and Sam would go to the farm at weekends and help with the cleaning of Jed's stable, take him for a long walk over the fields and when they got back Sam would gently brush his coat before helping with his feed.
One morning, as he reached Mrs Grimble's house he noticed that the old lady was at the window. She saw Sam and began beckoning him over. Sam was scared, if the children in the Village were right and she was a witch, she might put and spell on him and he would never be able to get away! However, Mrs Grimble looked as though she was in need of help, so Sam put his fears aside and went up to the front door. As he approached he noticed the door was ajar and a frail voice called out for him to come in. As Sam pushed the big black door open wide it made a strange screaching sound that was really eerie. The hall was dark and smelt damp and unlived in and Sam felt the fear creeping up inside. He then heard the voice again, "in here lad". As he entered of dingey room he saw Mrs Grimble sitting in a big old chair, by the window, that looked as though it was as old as the old lady herself. Sam thought how frail she looked. "I'm sorry to delay you on your way to school" she said in a kindly voice, that surprised Sam, "but I wondered if you would call the Doctor to come and visit me as you pass the public telephone box please". She then explained that she had never had a phone in the house so she couldn't call him herself and that she had felt quite poorly all night. Sam had his mobile phone with him and told her that he would use it and avoid any delay. Sam rang the Doctor's number and waited with Mrs Grimble until he arrived. The Doctor told Mrs Grimble that she needed to go to the hospital for some tests and that they would probably need to keep her there for a few days observation. Mrs Grimble immediately refused saying she couldn't leave Sooty, her cat, as there was nobody to feed him or fill his water bowl. Sam told Mrs Grimble that if she didn't mind him having access to her home, he would willingly feed and water the cat for a few days, until she came home. After some persuasion Mrs. Grimble reluctantly agreed to go and an ambulance was called.
For the next few days Sam checked on the cat every morning and evening before and after school and made sure his dishes were always cleaned and filled with food and water. Sooty hid from Sam at first, only coming out to feed after Sam had left, but he gradually got used to him coming and going and was soon there to greet him when he arrived. Sam called in as usual on the fourth morning and was very surprised to see Mrs Grimble was back home again and looking very much better. Sam offered to collect some goods from the shopfor heron his way home from school and she gratefully accepted Sam's offer. When Sam went into the small shop he saw a lovely little posy of brightly coloured flowers and thought how much Mrs Grimble would like them. The only problem Sam had was that he had saved his pocket money for two weeks so that he could by a little plastic car that he had admired so much in the shop, but if he bought the flowers he wouldn't have enough for the car. Without a second thought, Sam picked up the flowers, he remembered what his Mother had always told him "it was more important to make others happy than to worry aboutyourself. God will reward you if you are kind to others". Well Sam hoped his Mother was right as he would have loved the car!!
"Just to say welcome home" said Sam, as he handed the flowers to Mrs Grimble and for the first time ever Sam sawthe old lady smile. "Thank you so much Sam" she said "I can't remember the last time anybody bought something for me I really appreciate your kindness" As Sam saw her smiling face he was so pleased he had listened to his Mother and bought the flowers instead of the car. Sam called in to see Mrs Grimble most days and told her all about Jed and how he helped with him at the weekends. Mrs Grimble had never married and had no family left, so she really looked forward to Sam's visits and hearing all his news about school and Jed.
Weeks, then months, went by and everyday Jed was waiting for Sam at the paddock fence to have the carrot Sam always brought him. Today was different though, as Sam hurried through the farm to Jed's paddock, there was no sign of the little pony. "Jed!" he called loudly "Jed, Jed!!" Farmer Brown suddenly appeared from behind an old haystack "Jed's not here this morning lad". "Not here?" said Sam "but where is he?" "A liitle girl and her parents have taken him to the big field, so the girl can try riding him". Sam was puzzled and it must have shown on his face. "Oh! didn't I tell you Sam?" said Farmer Brown "Emily has decided she will have to sell Jed, now she is at college she has lots of additional expenses and .................. but Sam didn't hear the rest of Farmer Brown's words. Sell Jed was all he could remember, but she couldn't, Jed was his friends and they loved one another, Sam just couldn't bear the thought that Jed might be taken miles away and he would never see him again. With tears streaming down his face Sam ran from the farm and on to school. He couldn't concentrate on his school work that day, all he could think about was Jed and whether he would already be gone by the time he went home after school.
Sam dreaded reaching the paddock, but to his delight Jed was there and it seemed he was as pleased to see Sam as Sam was to see him. "Hello old boy" said Sam as he gave Jed the carrot he had saved from the morning and the small apple he had brough alongfor him forhis evening treat and as Jed munched away Sam felt a little happier. As he said goodby to Jed and told him he would see him in the morning, Farmer Brown came along. "I see Jed wasn't sold then?" said Sam with a question in his voice. "Not this time Son, but he is still up for sale". "How much is he?" asked Sam. "£300" said the farmer "and it doesn't stop there lad, there are all the ongoing expenses - food - shelter - vets fees etc that's why Emily is having to sell him". Sam sighed, he knew that he would never be able to have Jed, his parents could never afford it, even if they wanted to.
Sam made his usual call into Mrs Grimble before going home and she commented on how Sam wasn't his usual cheery self. He told her what had happened and how Jed was up for sale and how very very sad he felt. "Oh! I am so sorry Sam" she said "Maybe nobody will want to buy him and he will have to stay" she told him, This didn't make Sam feel any better, as he knew that someday soon another child would come along and this time he would lose his friend forever. When Sam arrived home his Mother was on the phone, and when the call ended she told Samthatit was Mrs Grimble. She had told his Mother what hadhappened andhow sad Sam was and said she was very concerned about him. His Mother explained that Jed wasn't his and although he loved him dearly there was nothing he could do to stop him being sold. "I am sure Emily is just as sad" she told him "but she has to be sensible and if she can't afford to look after Jed properly is was kinder to let him go". Sam was sure that Emily could never feel as sad as he did and he knew that if he was his he would do everything he could to keep him. "Maybe he will be sold to somebody local" she said "and perhaps they will let you visit Jed". Sam knew she was only trying to make him feel better but he knew no matter what anybody said he would still feel very sad.
Weeks went by and there was no mention of anyone showing any interest in buying Jed and Sam had put all thoughts of the sale to the back of his mind. It was almost Easter and Sam was looking forward to spending more time at the farm and with Jed, during his school holidays. It was the last day of school and Sam hurried to the paddock to give Jed his usual treat and to tell him how they would be together more for the next two weeks. Suddenly Sam saw Farmer Brown coming over. "Hi Sam" he said "have to tell you lad, Emily has been made an offer for Jed and she has decided to accept it". Sam was stunned, it just couldn't be true. "He is being handed over at the weekend" he told Sam "and Emily is hoping that you will still come to help her get him ready for his new owner". Sam was about to refuse, but then realised that this might be his last chance to spend any time with Jed, so sadly he agreed to come as usual.
Sam was usually excited on Saturday morning, as he could spend so much more time with Jed. This Saturday was very different though, this could be the last time he would ever see his friend and this made him really sad. As he walked towards the stables, he saw Emily's car was already there. His heart sunk - somehow this made it true - Jed was really going to his new owner today. Sam tried to be brave and carried on walking through the courtyard, thenhe noticed there was another car, this one was more familiar though, it was his Mother's car! He could see both his parents sitting in there. Why hadn't they offered to bring him if they were coming to the farm and why were they here anyway?? Then he thought - Ah! they probably wanted to be there for him when Jed was handed over to his new owner as they knew how sad and upset he would be as Jed was taken away. Sam could see there was someone else in the car and as he got closer he could see it was Mrs Grimble. Sam thought how kind it was of her to come as well to support him as he could see it was quite a struggle for her getting out of the car. As Sam got closer he noticedEmily, Farmer Brown, his parents and Mrs Grimble were all smiling. Then suddenly Mrs Grimble began to speak. "Sam" she said"over the past months you have been a very good friend to me. You can never know how much it has meant to me having you call regularly and all the kindness you have shown me. It made me sad seeing how unhappy you were when you heard that Jed was being sold." She then told him that he had proved to be a true friend as he always thought that she was a very poor old lady and often bought her little gifts to cheer her day rather than spending his pocket money on himself. "Well Sam" she said "I am not poor at all, in fact I am a very rich woman, my Father used to own the farm and when he passed away he left it to me in his will. As I knew very little about farming I sold the majority of the shares to Farmer Brown, I just own the stables and the paddock, which he kindly takes care of for me. After a long discussion with your parents and with their permission, it give me great pleasure to give you this envelope Sam and to wish you a very Happy Easter". Sam took the envelope, thanking Mrs. Grimble and with trembling hands he opened it. As he took out it's contents he couldn't believe his eyes. The paper had a bright red heading which said "Certificate of Ownership" and as he read the words "Jed is now legally owned by Samuel Jarrard - signed and dated by Emily Brown" he could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. This time though they were tears of joy. Sam hugged Mrs Grimble - how could he thank her he asked and kept telling her she had made him the happiest boy alive. Everyone was smiling and crying at the same time. "Just one other thing before we go to collect Jed" said Mrs Grimble "I am making a trust for Jed so that all expenses will be paid for himfor the rest of his life". Everyone clapped and Mrs Grimble said it was now time to introduce Jed to his new owner and off they went to the stable to fetch him.
It was a warm day and Mrs. Brown the Farmer's wife had made a lovely tea outside. Everyone celebrated with sandwiches and Easter Cake and Jed munched on the carrots that were freshly picked for him.
Sam couldn't stop smiling and hef elt sure that no matter whatever else happened to him in the future this would be one of the happiest days of his life and one he would remember always.
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